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Evaluation of Aboriginal Domestic Violence program "What's Your Plan"

Release Date: 10:30am, Thursday 7 October 2021

Link to report summary:-

An innovative NSW program delivered to Aboriginal people receiving an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order does not appear to reduce the risk of DV reoffending according to an evaluation completed by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

What's Your Plan was a behaviour change program designed to increase ADVO compliance.  The program was available to Aboriginal defendants with a finalised ADVO between March 2017 and October 2019.

The program applied two self-regulatory behaviour change strategies which have an evidence base in the psychology literature:  Mental Contrasting and Implementation Intentions.  Participants were asked to imagine the future with and without breaching their ADVO, and to identify and plan for potential obstacles to compliance.

What's Your Plan was delivered in court by trained Aboriginal Client and Community Support Officers and reinforced with a follow-up call and SMS reminders. The program was implemented with an on-week, off-week structure allowing a quasi-randomised outcome evaluation design.   

The evaluation considered the impact of the program on both ADVO breaches and proven DV charges. For both measures, the evaluation considered the proportion of reoffenders, and the number of days until the offence occurred (if ever), within 3, 6 and 12 months.

Outcomes for people in the 'off-weeks' (the control group) were compared with both people in the 'on-weeks', and those that actually received the WYP program (26% of those allocated).

The evaluation found no evidence for any impact of the 'What's Your Plan' program on breaches of ADVOs or DV-related charges.

Commenting on the findings, the Executive Director of BOCSAR, Jackie Fitzgerald, said that the negative finding might be because domestic violence is notoriously difficult to influence through perpetrator interventions.  

"The drivers of domestic violence are complex.  Brief interventions, such as What's Your Plan, may need to be combined with more intensive behavioural change programs and/or long-term social support to have any impact on rates of DV offending."

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
Email: bcsr@justice.nsw.gov.au
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au